Athena - Starting Somewhere

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Description: Have you ever talked to a sword? Or watched a blind man read your handwriting? Or watched an armed warrior stroll through a school library almost completely unnoticed? Athena hadn't until now as the first of what promises to be many meetings takes place on one rainy Saturday afternoon.

A week ago, she was on top of the world.

While she had never personally taken credit for the triumph of the Psycho Soldiers, fight fanatics around the world were framing the team's success in that light all the same. From her harrowing victory over Zappa, to her controversial win by decision against Ryu Hayabusa, and her unexpectedly decisive wins over Ken Masters and Sergei Dragunov, at every turn Athena Asamiya challenged expectations and became the last one standing at the end of the grueling team tournament viewed around the world.

Even as champions, the team had its doubters. Why was she declared the winner in the quarter finals when clearly unconscious? How had Ken Masters ended up so off his game after thoroughly obliterating the girl's teammate, Sie Kensou? And what was up with her energy attacks during the finals at Stonehenge, where every assault rippled with forces that seemed to rip at each other every bit as much as they tore apart the girl's opponents? Was the teen fighter a legitimate success or the byproduct of some kind of elaborate marketing fix?

Either way, the Psycho Soldiers returned home champions. There was a big todo about it on the first day back to school. Justice High students were not known for their outbursts of exuberance, but teachers and peers alike had complimented Athena on her success in the famous tournament. On the second day, additional praises were offered by those who hadn't caught up with her on the first day. By the third, it barely came up at all. And by Thursday, it was as if the world had forgotten Athena Asamiya the conqueror and pride of Justice High and only Athena Asamiya, the student behind on her school work remained.

The day is Saturday and thoughts of her whirlwind of experiences over the last couple of months is the furthest thing from her mind. The mid-afternoon sky is grey with a gentle rainfall drenching the campus outside of the library, drops pattering against the glass pane windows of the immense edifice to higher learning. The dark violet haired martial artist turned student was lurking in one of the alcoves, leaning over a small round table, her cheek propped by her hand, her elbow braced on the table. Violet eyes trace their way across the text book open in front of her as she tries to memorize dates, names, and places for fourth period history. There are three tests on Monday and she has three weeks of studying to catch up on... While Justice High encouraged its students to pursue extracurricular activities like, say, climbing the ranks of a massive team battle tournament, there was also almost no mercy extended concerning missed studies. The best one could hope for was a slight delay in testing or quiz dates... but in the end, every iota of missed academics would have to be caught up, without exception.

Even on the weekend, the girl is dressed in the school's uniform - almost no tolerance exists for being on campus otherwise clothed. A pitch black, short sleeved, button up blouse with a dark grey tie is tucked into a military orange wrap skirt at the waist. Her legs are bare but for the ankle high white stockings worn with black leather loafers. Her hair rests long, the only ornament a crimson hairband with a golden star on the right end of it that rests just behind her bangs.

Page after page is turned, notes occasionally scribbled out on a white notepad resting under her right hand. The weekend forecast is a lot of rain and a lot of studying. And she thought tournament pressure could be tough!

Though there are many differences between the schools of South Town, and their counterparts in Metro City, they all share some sort of strict security measure. whether it be to avoid gang violence in Metro, or rival school shenanigans in ST, it is universally understood that only ninja attempt to slip into such places undetected.

Ninja, and psychic samurai.

A fresh coat of wax glistens on the pristine white tiles of Justice High's main hallway. Ever onward stretches the polished expanse, crossing, and crossing again as it divides the school into neatly squared sections. Simple blue lockers line the walls, bringing some color to the otherwise utilitarian white of their surroundings.

At regular intervals, a small alcove will house a neatly labeled door , either numbered or holding a title of some significance.

It is through these squeaky white hallways that Justice Prefects patrol. Whether they be called that, hall monitors, helpers, or teacher's aids matters very little to the man who walks among them. His only goal is not to get caught.

'Stop. Step left.' whisper the guiding voices within the intruder's mind, and without thinking he obeys. The heavy material of his damp sleeveless coat flutters out behind him as he maneuvers smoothly into one of many alcoves, a plaque on the light wooden door reading: 'Science Lab.'

Not 5 seconds later, a prim young girl with twin blond braids hurries past. With her eyes focused down toward her smart phone,both thumbs tapping away, she fails to notice the strange man in the crimson coat and blindfold who stands patiently only 5 feet from her path.

One corner of the stranger's expressive lips quirk up in a wry little half smile, the bare fingers of a half-gloved hand lifting to scratch lightly at his dark, grey-flecked beard. His rain-slick hair is a similarly dark shade, streaked with grey, and the hilt of an ancient yet simple sword protrudes over his left shoulder.

As the stranger steps from the alcove, his long red coat flutters open to expose a suit of close fitting black and silver armor, matching well the dark silver bracers that protect his forearms. The costume is a strange one to wear into a private school, and not ideal for sneaking, but his quiet steps are subtle and unassuming as he continues a short distance up the hall and turns the corner into yet another shallow alcove.

The plaque before the blind warrior reads: 'Library,' the etched silver standing out stark and bright against the dark wood of the door.

Quietly turning the handle, the wandering ronin pulls the heavy door wide to slip inside, his quiet steps instantly muffled by the library's plush carpet.

Tugging the door shut behind him, the aging man pauses, head cocked slightly to one side as if listening. His little half smile has long since faded from his bearded face, replaced by a look of calm stoicism as the delicate touch of his awareness spreads throughout the library. Only once the woven web of psi has settled does he step further into the room, deftly navigating between the scattered tables on his slow but inexorable approach toward the simply-dressed girl.

Despite his odd appearance, the surface presence of the tall swordsman is surprisingly subdued. He does not burn with a blazing warrior spirit, nor are there impenetrable walls that shield his mind from all who would dare to intrude. There is only the man, thoughtful but aware, and the gossamer threads that connect him to his surroundings.

What lies beyond that man, hidden deeper within his soul, is anybody's guess. It is a mark of the truly experienced to be able to create that divide, to remain open but not exposed. And it is a mark of the learned to recognize such a mental stance.

He picks a fine day for an infiltrating visit. Only a handful of students seem to be about the campus. Some because they have no choice, forced to sacrifice precious weekend hours as penance for some fault performed during the week. Others, like the studious Asamiya, because they need to be. While many school texts have gone digital, there are plenty that have not and the only way to delve into their mysterious facts and theories is to suffer through the analog text books in person.

The expansive library is quiet, both due to construction, its thick carpet and sound absorbing panels on the walls, and also because it is barely populated. There are a few wandering the aisles, piling books onto or off of carts as they restore order to the chaos inflicted by students during the week. Others click away at terminals, searching microfiche archives for whatever data is necessary for the reports they are pressured to get through by Monday.

The souls milling about go largely unnoticed by the quiet girl, her finger tapping at her cheek as she retains focused. Her mind is a wall through which very little escapes, shrouded by mental barriers designed to keep her influence at bay and the psyches of others without. Unfortunately, while it served to protect her and others around her, it also often left her blind or oblivious to things she should have noticed - a point made abundantly clear when she finally let down her guard in trying to truly understand what her younger friend was going through at a moment that almost proved too late.

Finding the right balance was something that would need to come with time. For now, she has a Senior History exam on Monday that isn't going to answer itself. Those sensitive to such things would find the sheer absence of stray thoughts or surface emotions from the girl causes her to stand out as unusual from the other souls nearby - a pocket of mental void in the tapestry of thoughts filling even the quiet library.

Sighing softly, she glances up, eyes tracing over the wall mounted clock high across the way. The library will be open for hours yet. A student wanders by the alcove Athena is tucked away in, the first other person she's laid eyes on for hours. The two exchange glances, a quick friendly if subtle smile, and the other girl moves on, vanishing around a corner.

Sitting up, the young woman leans back in her chair, allowing her thoughts to wander a little, her pen at rest atop her notepad. She didn't think she would miss the stresses of the tournament, the pressure of performing for all the world, of testing herself against many of the greats... but now that it is all behind her, she can't help but feel an emptiness in her mind where the stress had harbored throughout the tournament.

Walled off, the student remains unaware of the newest arrival to slip unnoticed into the library. The gift that should be such a warning beacon concerning such things is squelched beneath will that passively keeps it restrained, blocked off, contained as it pushes against the barriers that hold it in. Only in combat does she let it loose, allow the emotions of others wash through her and around her, allow her own presence to radiate out unrestrained and alive. But if she were to do that here, the potential to influence others in unintended ways would be too great. And so she sits quietly in her own pocket world of thought, failing to fully put her talents to use.

Though some few students do bustle throughout the library, the presence of the swordsman among them remains unremarked upon. Whether it be due to the surety that no unauthorized stranger could make it this far, would be willing to expose himself in such a way, or would seem so unassuming and routine; the fact of the matter is, only a few vaguely interested glances skate across the tall man's armored form. He just seems to, fit, somehow. As if he were there for a purpose, but not one so important as to require comment.

If Athena were not tucked so securely in her mental bunker, she might note the feather-light touch of his mind. The gentle assurance that everything is as it should be. But, so light is the touch that it does not register against the fortifications she has so painstakingly constructed. However, this does mean that, as the blind man steps up to her alcove, he is instantly recognizable as someone who does not belong. Without his mental reminder of safety and routine, his presence clashes vividly against her peaceful surroundings.

Still, there is no sense of aggression. No move toward the sword that rides his back. There is only his appearance, armor scuffed and scratched, crimson coat heavy with rain, and bearded face set in an expression of quiet contemplation.

His bulk looms above the young girl for a fraction of a moment, head cocked to one side while he stares down at her with hidden eyes. It is a moment that could stretch, or flash, or freeze entirely. But no matter how it passes, it ends with the ronin offering the powerful young woman a wry little half smile. It is as if he understands the strangeness of this situation and has accepted it, moving on with a 'what can you do?' and a shrug. But it is only a smile. A simple expression to convey so much.

"Your walls are thick." The swordsman comments, his tone light and friendly, though rough-edged and masculine. "Perhaps too thick."

That being said, the scruffy swordsman trails his fingertips across the table, following its edge as he circles sightlessly around the corner. His other hand then drops, finding the back of a chair with deft ease, and he drags it from beneath the table and claims it for his own.

A soft sigh escapes the blind man, while dim grey light filters through the window beside them, made wavering and watery by the translucent droplets without. The shifting light gleams off of the scratched metal reinforcements across his knuckles, causing the steel to glow gently as his fingers steeple against the tabletop.

"This meeting will seem strange to you at first." Kenshi declares, the faint little smile that twists his lips hinting that he grasps just how understated his remark truly is, "But this world is one of strangeness. My name is Takahashi Kenshi, and I am one who shares some of your gifts."

His introduction is calm and relaxed. And while it lacks the false sincerity of a salesmen,there remains a sense of, placation. A tone of understanding, low and understated, that seems to request patience. And though he has no visible eyes with which to meet Athena's own, the blindfold remains fixed toward her, as if he could simply gaze straight through to study the features before him.

Suppressing her gift was for the best, she had been taught. Master Gentsai had always implied that there would be more to learn about how to control the formidable wellspring of power contained within the soul of the young girl, but first she needed to master the basics. Growth from there could come later, the aged sensei had always intimated. As such, she sits quietly, the entire library silent to her in more ways than one. Maintaining the barriers come so naturally as to require not thought at all that would distract from the studies she has returned to. The small sparks of passing curiosity at the new arrival go unnoticed, as do the gentle suggestions that there is nothing to worry about either. He may be an outsider to these halls of academia, but to most, he seems to belong just enough that he doesn't merit further scrutiny.

Of course, her obliviousness to his presence also wards against the effect he is having on the rest of those who notice him. However, no matter how engrossed the girl might be in the book in front of her, she can't help but take notice of the sudden appearance of company. Lifting her face, Asamiya's violet eyes trace over the looming figure that has approached the other side of her table. He might sense that she studies him visually, but in the same instant comes a probing of another kind he would be far more aware of. The student is cautious, wary, reaching out mentally for hints of aggression or ill intent, her pen still in her fingers, though her fingers holding it have tensed, though the vast majority of her potential remains walled off.

He would find her own awareness shallow in a way, sensitive to strong emotions or powerful intent, but hardly capable of delving deeper than that; either because she isn't trying to or she doesn't know how. He would notice the slight release of tension as he faintly smiles, her focus having shifted to the wrapping around his own eyes.

He speaks and Athena hardly moves, eyes glancing to the side for an instant as if trying to verify that this stranger is indeed addressing her and not someone else who happened to sneak up beside her that she didn't notice.

"Excuse me?" comes her answer, the confusion readily apparent. She doesn't recoil as he slips into the chair, though her pen is at last dropped, the girl sitting up straighter then, hands coming to rest on the edge of the table. Her right hand lifts, absently brushing a length of her hair back behind her right ear and over her shoulder. There is no doubt it is a warrior that has joined her... that seems to have started happening a lot since her team's remarkable run in King of Fighters. Will he offer a chance for her to test her limits like the enigmatic Heinlein? Or petition the chance to test his own like the very forward Glenn? But in a library of all places, that hardly seems appropriate!

He continues now that he has seated. "You noticed, huh?" she replies with a hint of a giggle that he immediately acknowledges how strange this encounter is coming across to her. But he immediately cuts to the chase, his name offered as well as that very important link they share, and all pretense of humor melts from the girl.

"Athena Asamiya, pleased to meet you." she offers, knowing full well that he is assuredly already in possession of her name. Habit compels her to extend her right hand in offer of a friendly shake only for her to pause awkwardly, limb extended, realizing that the man might not even be aware of the offered gesture.

"Whatever brings you here has to be more interesting than what I was reading, Takahashi-san."

The wry little smile that graces Kenshi's lips twitches, his entire face flinching in a subtle wince at the pressure of her mind against his. Even through such a tentative probe, he can sense the raw strength that hides within her.

But even the greatest of swords becomes useless in the hands of a novice. She has some skill, and awareness of her potential, but it is clumsy. Where she could scent the air with the idle grace of a snake, she swipes with large, padded paws. Where she could leverage her might in quick, surgical strikes, she blasts her opponents with mighty constructs of energy.

Within the swordsman's mind, his emotions reflect these thoughts. Some curiosity, an admiration for her strength, and yet, disapproval.

Even as these impressions are passed between them, a pressure builds against her probe. It is not a wall, nor a rejection, but a palm that braces against her intrusion, urging her to be patient, and go no further. perhaps as a gesture of good faith, he allows their minds to remain linked, however superficially.

In the physical world, Kenshi lifts his right hand from the table and clasps Athena's in a warm, callouced grip. As is to be expected there is a great amount of strength in his hands, and the leather that covers his palms has worn thin and flexible with age. The grimace that has briefly twisted his features has faded into a serious expression that mirrors her own.

"More interesting, perhaps." The aging man agrees with easy amiability, "But we will see if this talk grows to be important as well."

Releasing her hand, he presses his own palm down atop a small stack of history notes. There does not appear to be a hole in his bandana through which he could be gazing to find such things, but if her awareness grows strong enough, she may detect the thin web of power that radiates out from his position, alerting him to the larger movements of the world.

Or, perhaps she would feel the presence of his sword. Of the ancestors that reside there, silent and attentive to the meeting of the psychics.

"Warriors such as us are, less common than most. And when one of your strength appears, it can be dangerous." Kenshi's voice is low, the tone solemn. "But I do not sense recklessness from you. You are cautious, restrained, and considerate of the minds around you. This is good. Someone has trained you in the basics of your talent, and taught you how to leash your potential. But you are still clumsy."

The old swordsman offers another faint grin to soften the harshness of his remark, accompanying it with a little nudge of his mind against the mental probe that stretches between them. It does not seem that he blames her for her lack of experience. Why should he?

"I have come to speak with you, and to gauge you. To learn who it is that carries such a gift."

She is taught in an instant that his claim of sharing a similar gift is not idle words as her own scrutiny finds resistance at first, then a controlled connection that lingers, not by accident but design. Her thoughts begin to wonder at this - it is not often that she has encountered others aware of what she could do, let alone strong enough to press against it. But before she can think too long on the matter, she finds her hand gripped, almost by surprise as if not expecting him to pick up on her gesture. Her hand is small in his, delicate but firm of grip.

He speaks of their discussion becoming important and she blinks once, still trying to assay his intention. Her heart beats quickly at the contact, of anticipation and anxiousness. The sword on his back is a warrior's blade, his body built like one who has lived a life of battle... can there be any other direction this goes beyond a fight? She doesn't want to get in trouble with the school!

Her hand released, Athena rests it in her lap, trying to present a relaxed front but unable to conceal her uncertainty from his enhanced sight. Eyes flick to his hand as he rests it on her notes, then back to his face, then back to his hand. The net of power enhancing his awareness to what is going on around him goes unnoticed - not for inability to detect it but because the sword at his back more than blinds her ability to perceive such gossamer elements of power by comparison.

Eyes linger over the pommel of his sheathed blade, growing immediately curious as the idea of finding not just one soul but many within a non-living object is a completely foreign idea to the girl. Maybe if her teammate Haru were here, he would know more about such things - having a special connection with the history of objects he touches... She is drawn in by his words before she can gaze at his sword for too long - he is speaking of them at first, but it quickly becomes about her, a subject she is less comfortable with being broached.

Already he speaks of her strength. Then, like Zach Glenn and Kain Heinlein, perhaps he has seen her fights - she hesitates, realizing that the idea of him watching her on a stream broadcast seems preposterous. Was he in attendance? Is he really blind?

His assessment comes quickly, before she can fully react, warning of the dangerous potential, but also observing her attributes of concern and caution. But then he calls her control clumsy? Athena blinks again, drawing back slightly. She had never had her talents judged by anyone other than her sensei before... how many in the world would even be qualified to comment in the first place?

"Master Gentsai has seen to it that I have learned what I have been ready for..." So she does have a teacher. Is he up to the task of teaching the girl? Or has he done the best he could within his abilities? Her tone is a touch defensive. This is definitely new ground for her.

He speaks of gauging her and Athena is quiet for a moment, eyes casting to the side, head bowed slightly as if in contemplation. "For what purpose?" she finally asks after a few seconds. "Forgive me for asking, but what concern is it of yours what kind of person I may be?"

Empathy. It is far more than a psychic talent. To those who have waded through the sea of emotions, witnessed the tidal forces that pour from the minds of men and women, reading people becomes second nature. A mental connection is not needed to understand tense shoulders, averted eyes, and nervous energy.

"I have not come to fight you." Kenshi assures the young girl seated across from him. As he says this, his grin grows larger, white teeth gleaming through his greying beard. Her trepidation has indeed been detected, but there is nothing malicious about his expression or thoughts. But rather than pressing on, he allows her attention to guide the conversation.

"My sword is named Sento." The warrior explains, long fingers lifting from her notes to reach across his body and lightly touch the weapon's pommel. "Within it reside the souls of my ancestors. They guide me, both in action, and spirit. it is they who have requested we meet."

Allowing a moment of silence, perhaps for her thoughts, or maybe for his own, he removes his hand from the hilt of the traditional-looking weapon and joins it with his other. Steepling his fingers, he tilts his face down as if to observe them. Gradually his grin is replaced by a more pensive expression, lips pressed into a firm line. Through their connection can be felt his contemplation, and the slow shifting of organized thoughts.

"You have seen," Kenshi begins, taking his time to choose the correct words for his explanation, "that few people truly share your purity of spirit. Many will try, but often they will fail. I have felt your power. it comes from a place of goodness, and that is not common for energy used in combat. My own power comes from a place of pain, and revenge, and has taken me many decades to focus towards justice. it is the same for my ancestors. We are warriors, and the life of a warrior is difficult."

Lifting his somber attention from his hands, he focuses his hidden gaze toward Athena's face and calmly links his fingers together. One corner of his lips twitch, the expression wry, as if to say 'A strange man baring his soul to you during study hours?'.

"I am here, because my ancestors believe I can aid you. And, I believe they hope your purity of soul will aid me in return. I mean no disrespect to your master, but if he does not share your gift, and have my control, he will not be able to take your training much further. You will have to teach yourself."

He assures her he is not there to fight and Athena is taken aback briefly, as if surprised to have someone intuit her thoughts with such precision isn't something she's used to, especially from someone she keeps forgetting seems remarkably aware for having crimson wrapped over his eyes. She reminds herself that she isn't the only one at the table with the ability to perceive well beyond what the traditional senses would suggest would be possible and recovers quietly, hands slipping from the table to clasp in her lap.

He names the blade at his back - a common practice she's aware for those who come to trust their lives to a weapon. Naming it makes it more than just a disposable tool... it makes it an extension of self. But it isn't the name that is remarkable but rather his admission that she isn't wrong in detecting the presence of so much beneath the surface of the traditional implement of war. Eyes widen slightly, wonder immediately filling her mind as she tries to imagine how such a situation even came to be that generations of those who came before him ended up contained within an inanimate object. This is quite unlike the tormented soul she faced in the King of Fighters who was host to countless souls overwhelming his own...

That he carries the souls of others with him and is able to commune with them, receive guidance from them, is by itself already a marvel. He credits the sword for this visit and all the Japanese young woman can do is nod slightly, looking slightly dumbfounded. Were it not for her own perception, it's likely she wouldn't even believe such an impossible explanation.

She is speechless as he contemplates afterward, he has already given her so much to consider. And when he finally answers her question, she remains quiet and attentive. She averts her eyes lower as he speaks of her power that he has felt and shares a rather personal detail about the nature of his own power and from whence it stems. Even more things to wonder about - in his face alone she can see evidence of lifetimes worth of experiences... just thinking about the stories he could tell is an enticing thought to pursue by itself!

"I was lucky to receive instruction from nearly the beginning." Athena remarks softly. As early as she can remember, at least. "I don't know if I can really take credit for the path my life has gone so far." she continues, smile working its way into her lips as she lifts her eyes back toward the man in time to catch his wry grin.

Again he credits his ancestors and speaks of a potentially mutually beneficial arrangement if the souls in the sword are to be believed anyway. "I see..." comes her soft answer, the youth clearly weighing the several significant items she has been given to ponder. "I am not so proud as to refuse the offer of additional instruction. I would need to discuss it with Master Gentsai, of course... but... I still don't really know who you are, where you come from, and what you hope for the future. I-it's not that I'm inherently distrustful, and you seem, ah, nice-" she stammers, her speech becoming awkward as she tries to work through her thoughts at the same time as she's vocalizing them, "I I- mean, I don't mean for that to sound patronizing, I-" the girl buttons up, cheeks flaring a hint of crimson now.

"Well, I just mean, I just don't know you yet. Forgive me for saying."

"Do not apologize. I am aware of the strangeness of my suggestion." Kenshi replies with his typical amiability. Even now it is clear that he does not belong in this place, the stark harshness of his armored appearance clashing badly with the boundless potential that lives within the carefully tended halls of Justice High. He is won that has already encountered the rough truths of life, and emerged with scars and damage to show it. But even with all of that, he continues to offer the young girl a wry little twist of his lips, his thoughts reassuring yet amused.

Lifting his hands from the table, the uncannily perceptive blind man gestures to her still open book, and the discarded notes that have yet to be finished. The buckles of his armor creek with the motion, scabbard ticking softly against the back of his chair.

"Speak with your master when you are able. If he approves, it will be my honor to instruct you. But for now," Again, that open, gleaming grin splits the aging man's beard, his tone gaining an edge that might even be close to mischievous, "I believe I know a spirit or two who may be eager to discuss your history notes. Rarely do they have a chance to speak with anyone but myself, and as most men, they are eager to show off a bit. What they have to say could be enlightening, and will certainly be more interesting than transcribing the book entirely."

Bracing his left hand atop the table, the battered old ronin awaits the young woman's answer. It is true that they do not know each other. If not for the urging of his ancestors, he would have passed her by. But this is the path he has chosen, and has offered to share. Now, in this place where she is safe, surrounded by friends and faculty willing to protect her, perhaps the beginnings of a relationship can be forged. Trust is important, yes, but nobody ever said you can't help trust along. Besides, homework is rather boring.

Beneath these feelings, however, shared freely through the link between them, is the knowledge that he will leave if asked. There is no weight of expectation. No drive to avoid hurting the feelings of the mysterious swordsman. It is a choice that can be made free of his judgement, and without the burden of guilt. For one such as her, always having to wall herself off, or deal twice with the repercussions of every act, it is the most powerful gift he can grant.

There is something about Kenshi's continued reasoned responses that suggest to the Justice student that he has been through similar conversations before in his life. She can perceive a certain patience - not forced, but naturally evolving - that must be the byproduct of a life full of interesting experiences. Just finding calm in his reactions helps her relax even under the unusual and somewhat stressful situation she finds herself in.

Eyes glance around the library as if Athena is briefly self-conscious at all this, only to become acutely aware how little anyone seems to have noticed this abnormal occurrence. Will no one even speak of it afterward? Heaven knows she already has a reputation for being outside the norm within the student body... But then again, what's more oddity to set her apart after everything else? Still, she has become aware of his influence, light as the touch might be on others that have at least seen the stranger stride in, even as she keeps it from affecting her directly.

Attention moves back to the blinded warrior, hands resting in her lap for now. He encourages her to ask her Master and Athena smiles softly. It is hard to predict Master Gentsai's reactions... she has a hard time predicting anything the old man says or does except for his penchant for sake. But she can't help but feel hopeful that he will either not mind her taking advantage of the chance to learn from another. It might just come down to timing the question for when he is the most agreeable.

As he continues speaking, Athena sucks in her breath softly, hands tightening in her lap as she starts to realize what he is suggesting. Attention snaps to the sword handle visible over his shoulder, then to his face, then back to the sword. The very idea that this might be possible - that she could hear from those who lived before - is as foreign to her as the concept of a sword housing the actual psyches of his predecessors. Then this too falls within the domain of her ability? She has obviously learned to draw forth her power in combat, how to shield off her mind to keep others at bay and yet also protected from her undirected influence... but what else is possible? What other potential applications has she not even imagined or tried?

It would be easy to feel the anticipation at his offer as she sits quietly, eyes drawn toward his extended hand. She doesn't move at first, almost seeming to hold her breath. For a moment she even withdraws behind her barriers, her thoughts and emotions closed off on a psychic level, even if one as perceptive as him might have little trouble reading the girl all the same.

She doesn't have to ask if it is safe even though the question comes to her mind. He has been open enough to even her awkward scans that she can find no deception, no cause for worry. Slowly, her pensive expression fades, replaced with a growing smile as she lifts her hand from her lap. Finally, she reaches out, taking hold of his offered hand, her momentary retreat behind her psychic walls coming to an end as she relaxes her guard little by little in the old ronin's presence.

"So..." the violet-eyed girl begins, speaking softly, deliberately keeping her voice from carrying. She forgets about the other students for now, about her notepad or books. "What do they know about the Meiji Restoration period?" Athena asks with a teasing grin.

Of course, behind the question is a mind occupied not so much with the past but with the future - what else can she learn? What else can she do? And how can these things help her along her path? What good can she do with them?

Concerns about being noticed by the few others in the library on the weekend melt away fast as the student sits with her hand in his, mind open to the potential chance to learn more than she ever imagined.

Log created on 00:21:36 08/10/2016 by Athena, and last modified on 03:35:54 08/14/2016.